In this post, let me share with you how I successfully grew corn (for the first time) in my own backyard.
When I say backyard, it means a small garden for growing personal consumption produce.
Was it successful? Well, the featured photo can tell you a story.
As a newbie gardener, like me, you’ll think it makes sense to just do the normal planting routine…
👉Grow the seedling (ready for spring and summer growing – as corn loves warmer weather; or all year round from tropical places)
👉Transfer it to the patch
👉Water the plant
👉Waiting, watering some more and more waiting
👉Until harvest time. Hoping that it will bear some fruits.
In the early stage of growing corn plants, I did some research and asked around friends who are experts and have more experience than I do.
It reminded me that not all plants are created or treated equal.
It brought me back again to the basics of my Botany (the study of plants) 101 in primary and secondary years.
Oh please, don’t ask me how long that was…😊 It’s long enough for me not to remember.😂
Like human and animal kingdom, the majority of plant groups require reproduction. Reproduction simply means producing babies or offspring (e.g. fruits/vegetables) from the parents – male and female parts of the plant.
There are several parts of this starchy produce. The baby of the corn is called the ear. It comprises silk, husk, kernel, and cob. The silk is the female part of the corn while the tassel is the male counterpart. Tassels appear at the top of the plant once the growth of the corn leaves is complete.
Remembering the basics of Botany, pollination is the transfer of pollen from the male part to the female part of the plant. This is often done by wind, insects, or birds.
However, growing this cereal grass plant in the backyard may require some manual intervention. Particularly if you are only growing a handful of them.
Why do hand pollination?
For big corn farms, pollination is not a problem as nature (like the wind) takes care of it. But for the small home garden, a small corn patch requires a helping hand.
Hand pollination guarantees you are not just growing grass with empty husks but making sure that the fruits of your labour are imminent.
When to do hand pollination?
As soon as the tassels are shedding anthers (with the pollen grains) and the emergence of the silks, you are now ready to hand pollinate. According to experts, it takes about a week to hand-pollinate and to grow well-filled corn ear. It is best to do it in the morning (on a dry day) for pollination to take place at its fullest.
With my first batch of corn plants, I only hand-pollinated once (whenever I was available) which explains why there were a lot of bald spots on my corn cobs. Meaning the reproduction did not take place fully.
How to do hand pollination?
Take the tassels and carefully brush them over the silks. Repeat this process for about a week.
What happens after pollination?
After the pollen from the tassels is successfully transferred to the silks (about a week), the silks will turn brown.
How long to harvest corn from pollination?
It takes about 2 weeks to harvest corn after pollination or hand pollination.
With my first batch, I waited longer as I felt the ear did not have enough kernels. I was thinking it was still in the process of growing but that in fact was due to the insufficient hand pollination I did. So, part of the corn kernels turned a bit dry.
How long does it take to harvest corn from seed?
It took me about 4 months from seeds to harvesting the corn ears. Dependent on the temperature, corn plants thrive better in warmer places and months. According to corn experts, you can harvest corn from seed between 60 to 120 days.
What’s the difference between store-bought vs homegrown sweet corn?
My short answer to that is – the difference is bucketload. It’s organic and it tastes a lot more fresh and sweeter.
I am understanding more and more why home gardeners appreciate eating fresh produce from their backyard than buying it from the shops.
As mentioned above, I harvested some ears with dried corn kernels but when I cooked them, they (still) tasted really good. My kids loved them.
Growing edible plants in the backyard take time and patience (dependent on the variety of fruits and vegetables) but it’s always worth the wait and effort.
As a first-time corn grower, I experimented with different ways and learned from my misconceptions and from other people’s experiences too. My first corn yield may not be 100% full-filled corn cob but due to this learning, I am more excited for my next round of corn planting come spring and summer season. I am packed with lessons I learned from one of the favourite starches in our kitchen.
Please leave your comments below should you find this post helpful or if you have additional tricks to add to the above that helped you succeed in growing your own corn. Or share it with your corn-lover friends who may wish to plant their own.
Happy corn growing!